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Using Psychological Theories to Change Online Consumer Behavior


Semester 2, 2021-2022

Type of course

Methodological and Practical Courses


March 18 and May 13, 2022


Online Dialogue office, Utrecht


2 days

Maximum number of participants



1 EC will be appointed for participation in the complete course


Florien Cramwinckel (Online Dialogue); Joost Baalbergen (Online Dialogue); Gert Jan Lelieveld (Leiden University), Reine van der Wal (Utrecht University)

Using Psychological Theories to Change Online Consumer Behavior

How useful are social psychological insights in “the real world”? During their PhD, candidates
acquire in-depth knowledge on many interesting social psychological processes and behaviors.
However, it may not always be clear if and how these insights are valued outside the lab and the
university. In this course, PhD candidates will experience how useful their skills and knowledge
are to business professionals. For this course, KLI joined forces with Online Dialogue
(, one of the leading experts in ‘evidence based growth’. Online
Dialogue uses psychological insights, data, and experimentation to improve online environments
and help companies achieve their goals.

During this course, PhD candidates will work on real business cases, with live websites from real
and current clients. Example cases are:

1) An online e-bike seller now shows prices on the website rather than inviting visitors to
download brochures. What are the psychological consequences of this strategic choice and what
are the best ways to show prices on their website?
2) A large telecom company wants to increase downloads and usage of their app. How can they
achieve this?
3) A bed company noticed that desktop visitors behave very differently from mobile visitors and
wants to know what the underlying psychological differences are. How should they adapt their
mobile and desktop website for these different visitors?

This is a two-day course. On the first day, PhD candidates will learn about the business case, have
ample time to ask questions, and come up with testable hypotheses based on solid psychological
theories. Candidates will pitch their ideas and rationale to the Online Dialogue team, consisting
of behavioral experts, UX designers, developers and data-analysts. Together, they will decide on
the most promising plans, and work with the PhD candidates to transform the ideas to testable
experiments. Furthermore, the PhD candidates will work in teams to provide a theoretical
answer to an applied question from a company (i.e., Client). During this first day, they will start a
literature search and start the draft of answers that can be reported back to the client.
After the first day, the Online Dialogue team will test the experiments on the actual client

On Day 2, students will come back and learn the outcome of the experiments. Did the suggested
changes lead to actual improvement, which will be implemented by the client? Second, the
students will finalize their reports of the applied issues and present these reports to the clients in
question. By presenting their report to the client, students will learn how to bridge the gap
between theory and practice. They will be challenged to explain theoretical knowledge in a way
that is useful for business. Furthermore, there will be special time reserved to network with
behavioral experts, developers, UX designers, data analysts, and strategists. Thus, this course not
only offers practical experiences on the usefulness of psychological knowledge outside of the lab,
but also insights into career alternatives outside of academia.

Literature & preparation: to be announced.